Greenville Triumph SC pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament’s opening week, Rio Grande Valley FC and Hartford Athletic each put up five-spots in high-scoring encounters, and everyone could relate to the New York Red Bulls II’s Ben Mines’ agony and redemption in a stoppage-time thriller in the USL eCup on Wednesday night.
1. There was no question to the result of the round, with Greenville Triumph SC taking Poland and upsetting top seed the Charlotte Independence and Germany in a 1-0 victory in the battle of the Carolina clubs. Jake Keegan may have been on the controller for Greenville, but it was almost like reigning League One Goalkeeper of the Year Dallas Jaye was there in spirit as Charlotte’s Valentin Sabella recorded 10 shots on goal but couldn’t find a way through. Instead, Triumph SC’s lone shot on goal made the difference and booked a place in the Quarterfinals.
2. If you didn’t tune into either of the 6:30 p.m. ET kickoffs, I can recommend going back to watch either of the goal-fests on Twitch. When it came to Rio Grande Valley FC and Kembo Kibato, it was just like watching Brazil as the Seleção got a hat trick from Luimo Boas Santos in its 5-3 victory against Phoenix Rising FC’s Kevon Lambert and the Netherlands. That performance was topped by Hartford Athletic’s Tyreke Johnson, however, who ran Scotland out to a three-goal lead in the first half and an eventual 5-3 victory against Miami FC’s Romario Williams and the Tartan Army’s archrivals England. Both Kibato and Johnson have looked extremely sharp in both outings so far, and rightly earned their places in the Quarterfinals.
3. Reaching the Quarterfinals is one thing as it put every remaining side one win away from a kick-start to their points total in the overall, but all of Wednesday’s winners also gained the added bonus of ensuring they’ll be part of Division A in Week 2 and in with a chance to a bye to the Quarterfinals. With the escalating points totals on offer across the three divisions, starting in the top flight is obviously a big advantage. We’ll see who makes the most of it when the first games in Division A kick off next Tuesday.
- We got to see the reason why Twitch is so popular for gaming on Wednesday with the USL eCup debut of the Ben Mines Cam as Mines represented the New York Red Bulls II with Chile against the Philadelphia Union II’s Zach Zandi and Spain. Anyone who has played FIFA past and present can relate to the ups and downs – and gaming stress – that Mines went through. For all the frustrations, though, that was a sweet 3-2 comeback victory with the stoppage-time winner.
- The bar had been set high for Saint Louis FC gaming pedigree thanks to the St. Louligans’ Keith Mayfield during the Rocket League tournament, and blessed with France to play with Kyle Morton built on Phanuel Kavita’s opening win in an emphatic 4-1 victory against Real Monarchs SLC’s Damian German and Switzerland despite going behind in the first half. As the highest remaining seed, STLFC might be tough to knock off this week.
- The same could be said for Union Omaha, which hasn’t officially played a game in USL League One yet but keeps racking up Ws online. Damia Viader and Norway pulled the 2-1 upset of Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC’s Mark Lindstrom and Belgium on Wednesday to keep their challenge in the opening bracket alive.
- There was plenty of determination to rally from Las Vegas Lights FC’s Jose Carrera as Uruguay, but in the end the two-goal lead inside the opening 10 minutes by Austin Bold FC’s Valeri Saramutin playing as Italy was always going to be hard to overcome. Saramutin wasn’t as flowing in his opening win, but Austin’s Quarterfinal with the Red Bulls II on Thursday could be a lot of fun.
Greenville Triumph SC (Poland) 1, Charlotte Independence (Germany) 0
Saint Louis FC (France) 4, Real Monarchs SLC (Switzerland) 1
Hartford Athletic (Scotland) 5, Miami FC (England) 3
Rio Grande Valley FC (Brazil) 5, Phoenix Rising FC (Netherlands) 3
New York Red Bulls II (Chile) 3, Philadelphia Union II (Spain) 2
Union Omaha (Norway) 2, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (Belgium) 1
Austin Bold FC (Italy) 2, Las Vegas Lights FC (Uruguay) 1
Sacramento Republic FC (Mexico) vs. OKC Energy FC (Portugal), ppd.